post by Michael Lagocki
photos by Kelsey Paine, Josh Dryk, and Eddie Walker
I imagine most of you reading this have been to, or at least know of, Art & Coffee. This is our longest running show, a monthly Open Mic and Live Art experience that we do at coffee shops. The idea first started in 2008, when I met Bill Priestly, the owner of a new coffee shop, Saxbys, in North Dallas. I loved the shop and after talking to Bill, I wondered if artlovemagic could be impactful in bringing an audience out to a new establishment like his.
We were. For the next year or so, we did monthly shows there that were a little bit of a twist on the artlovemagic model. We opened the mic up to the audience and brought out a handful of live artists for a free show. Attendance was strong right from the beginning. And we noticed several people would show up month after month. Art & Coffee was a success.
These days, we’ve moved the show down to Deep Ellum and we do it at the wonderful It’s A Grind. Again, this just came from one of our leaders walking into the place and having a conversation with them. They asked us to come and do four shows (that were very successful) and then we contracted for the rest of 2010.
One of the great things about this monthly show, is now that we have a few HUGE shows under our belt (see Underground & girlShow), we’re pretty comfortable doing a show this size. (Art & Coffee usually has about 6 artists in it- girlShow this year will have 60). We’ve become masters at setting it up, and especially tearing it down. We’re usually out the door 30 minutes after Art & Coffee closes.
It’s also become a learning ground for new producers. Melody Hay, Amanda Davis, Josh Dryk. Michelle McSpadden, and many more first learned the ropes producing A & C before moving on to our BIG shows. Producing A&C entails selecting a group of artists, running a pre-meeting, supporting their team through marketing and getting ready for the show, and then being the lead person on the floor night of.
Producing is a blast. I always say that the production role is where you really get to author the stories in ArtLoveMagic. It’s not for everyone, but I’m thankful that we’ve found a few really great producers who love putting these shows together. And I’m thankful that we have a few dedicated souls who love this show and help it happen every month. Deb, KZach, Mario, Bookworm, Hammer, Eddie, Dugger and others… thank you so much.
But the best part of Art & Coffee is the talent. I LOVE scheduling talent to do these shows. There are two groups to schedule each time Art & Coffee rolls around- the live artists who will create during the show, and the feature performers who hold down the mic. While most of the mic is open to the audience, we always have a feature poet and feature musician, who each perform twice during the night.
I believe having a feature performer does two things that work well within our mission. First, it ensures the mic will have some strong performances. Usually this isn’t a problem as our audiences are pretty talented. More importantantly however, I believe it can grow the artists. It’s easy to find an open mic to perform at. It’s less common to find a feature spot, where you’re asked to be a lead performer and to set the tone, performing multiple times, and being annouced as someone to pay attention to. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to find performers who play solo shows all the time, other times we get to bless someone who hasn’t been honored this way and they get to grow.
So where are we now? Mid 2010 and the shows have been incredible lately. Last night Josh Dryk produced an Art & Coffee that I thought was just fantastic, everything it should be: a strong group of diverse artists, great crowd, incredible open mic with excellent features.
The show goes on. I’m producing the next Art & Coffee myself (July 2nd, 2010). It’s a veteran show. Given that it’s only one week before girlShow, I needed to staff it full of Art & Coffee vets who already know what they’re doing (including people like Justin Nygren, Eddie Walker, Rachel Deniger, and Tim Dugger).
Josh and Kelsey are lined up to produce an upcoming Art & Coffee, as is Michelle McSpadden. We’ve talked about doing a “family” Art & Coffee that would happen mid-day and focus on stuff kids and adults can do together. We’re talking about bringing back the “painting with coffee” interactive that was so popular at Saxbys. We’re looking for new talent that want to create, sing, recite, and produce. All in all, we’re loving it.
Art & Coffee continues to happen first Friday of every month at It’s A grind. It’s a great show, a very welcoming show, and I’m proud to say it’s become an important puzzle piece in this crazy story that is ArtLoveMagic. Come hang out with us and see if you love it to.